Should We Regulate Drivers As They Age?

   By drodriguez  Sep 16, 2011

News of Reese Witherspoon’s recent accident spread fast after the actress was hit by a car while jogging across a crosswalk. Fortunately for Witherspoon, she was not hurt too badly . US magazine reports that she did suffer a small gash on her forehead, but other than that is doing fine.

Though Witherspoon has said she will not press charges against the 84 year old driver who hit her, the driver was ticketed by police after the accident. TMZ also reports that police are demanding the driver retake a driving and eye test within the next 30 days as well as providing the DMV with a list of all the medications she is currently taking.

This brings us to the question of whether there should be more regulations placed on drivers as they age. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study that reveals drivers over age 75 are over two and a half times more likely to die in a car crash than younger drivers. And drivers who are over 85 are four times more likely to die in a car crash than drivers age 55 to 64.

President of the AAA Foundation, Peter Kissinger, explains why he recommends most senior drivers take refresher driving courses or a driver improvement course. Kissinger says, “As we age, our reaction time and other cognitive skills can diminish. For instance, our eyesight deteriorates to such an extent that by age 60 we require ten times the amount of light necessary to see an object as when we were 16."

AAA has a site dedicated to helping seniors assess their own driving skills as they age and plan for their continued mobility in the future.

Do you think there should be regulations to reassess driver’s abilities as they age?

Or do you think this should be up to the driver and the driver’s family to decide?

Make a Comment

MaryinMN by MaryinMN | Waseca, MN
Sep 19, 2011

I live in a city where our Senior Center is on the main street. There are near-accidents all day long. They are dear people, but should have their eyes, hearing and driving skills re-tested, I believe, each year. The little driving refresher courses, in thecommunity room, aren't good enough. Most people try to avoid that street, when possible. But they are hazardous to themselves, as well as all traffic in that area.

sandrainfl by sandrainfl | Ponte Vedra, FL
Sep 19, 2011

Yes - most of them can't turn their heads to have proper awareness of other cars and their envirnment on the road. UGH!! Just having good eyesight is not enough. Mobility is just as important.

trsssm by trsssm | Lima, OH
Sep 19, 2011

I think as people age there should be a requirement for more frequent testing for various reasons. Aging causing changings in many areas, eye sight, and there could have been a major medical issue that could have changed other aspects as well. Also the elderly tend to be on more medications as they age and some do make them dizzy or disoriented and who is telling them to stop driving etc. I know my father takes about a dozen meds a day and he cant walk 2 feet without getting dizzy and short of breath and has to sit down, but yet his driving privledges are still intact and he cant drive very well anymore if you ask me, he scares me, but you cant tell him a thing. If there was a law for yearly testing it could put a stop to lots of accidents waiting to happen. I know its heartbreaking for many to have that privilege taken away, but for the saftey of others sometimes its necessary!

hbuchheit by hbuchheit | Herculaneum, MO
Sep 19, 2011

I totally agree that the older citizens need to require a driving test regularly as they age. If they are losing their sight, vision, or they are on medications, it certainly is not safe to have them on the roads. Maybe a little caring from family would help with this as opposed to ruining their dignity and treating them like high school students incapable of making their own judgements as they have for 3/4 of their life.

petname2 by petname2 | Acra, NY
Sep 18, 2011

Yes, I think that drivers should be given a road test when they are 65 and over. Too many older drivers do not have the attention span that they had when they were younger and therefore some of them should not be driving at all.

take5k by take5k | Randolph, NJ
Sep 18, 2011

absolutely! from age 70 on --add it to your yearly physical, blood work and eye appointment....

mom14043 by mom14043 | Pittsfield, MA
Sep 17, 2011

I think there should be retesting especially for vision because that seems to be a point of contention with older drivers. My mother has limited herself to daylight driving because her night vision was compromised by glaucoma. I think all drivers should take a vision retest.

hollynj by hollynj | Berlin, NJ
Sep 17, 2011

As we age our reaction time slows, our vision changes so yes I fully believe we should retest at a certain age.

heatherv112506 by heatherv112506 | Vero Beach, FL
Sep 17, 2011

I believe they should. After a certain age, reflexes and vision start to go, whether any one wants to admit it or not. I think after the age of 70 people should be re-tested.

GenXGirl by GenXGirl | SARTELL, MN
Sep 17, 2011

Absolutely there should be standard testing and it should be required every couple of years past a certain age. We can't leave this decision to families. In my own family my grandfather was allowed to drive into his 90's because my father viewed it as disrespectful to interfere with an elders decision.

Justine by Justine | Woonsocket, RI
Sep 17, 2011

I agree with testing eyesight and reaction time in anyone over 65 yrs old and that includes myself. Vision and reaction are two completely different things. How many times have you heard of someone stepping on the gas instead of the brake and jolting forward. Very dangerous to themselves and others. It seems to me each generation has reasons to be tested or monitored. The elderly are more high risk due to the many changes that take place mentally and physically as a result of the aging process. Defensive driving is every generation's responsibility, remember it will be your turn soon enough!

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
Sep 17, 2011

A driver in his/her 80s certainly has slowed down in the reflexes department. And people can suffer dementia in their 60s or 90s making them irresponsible drivers. I've also seen teens and middle aged folks who shouldn't be behind the wheel! Lots of them! How about a driving test every five years across the board?! Or better yet, look at individual driving records and test according to that. You can be 60, drive every day, and have never gotten a ticket. You can be 20 and have half a dozen tickets for speeding and running red lights.

discusbabe by discusbabe | Nashville, TN
Sep 17, 2011

I think a standard test for vision and reaction time should start at age 65 when up for renewal. What I would like to see happen first though, is a ban on texting while driving. I know this is off topic, but I watch people of all ages swerve all over the road every day because they are texting....

dkroots by dkroots | saddleriver, NJ
Sep 17, 2011

Being floridian.............. YEA............... a 16 year gets a license and drives at 15 on a permit..... well most people do not live to 90 so lets go backwards...... maybe be screened with getting your Social Security...... and if you pass 5 years....... ect.. the problem is the ones who shouldnt drive think they drive well....... a few years ago in my condo on the beach........ a woman....... don't know how old she was but way older couldnt park her vehicle properly banged the one behind her and banged the one next to her then left her vehicle in the aisle and went to her apartment....... and damn she walked like a fine lady down the hall oh yea that was the last time she drove... WHEW...... now with that said.............. PERHAPS EVERYONE SHOULD BE RETESTED EVERY 10 YEARS AS I'VE SEEN YOUNG PEOPLE WHO COULD USE ANOTHER LESSON OR 10........

osofast2 by osofast2 | Corona, CA
Sep 16, 2011

I do believe it should be controlled. People don't reliaze they can't drive properly. The fact is if it is controlled we wouldn't see all these incedents happening. It seems like every day you hear about a new story.